4 Types of Interview Questions You Should be Asking Potential Employers

You’ve shined your shoes, double-checked the directions, and practiced responding to all the standard interview questions – you’re ready to go. As you walk in that door, remember that an interview should be just as much about whether a job is a good fit for you as whether you’re a good fit for a job.

This is your chance to impress your employer – not just with your credentials and winning personality, but also by asking thoughtful, insightful questions that will make you stand out from other candidates.

So don’t get caught off guard when the hiring manager asks: “Do you have any questions for me?” Rather, take some time now to do a little recon, address any concerns, and let your future boss know just how dedicated you are.

Here are the four types of questions you should be asking.

1. Questions that show you know your stuff

Show you’ve done your research on the organization and the position you’re applying for by asking questions that clarify or expound on what you’ve learned.

A great question could be: “I read X and Y in your organization’s mission statement. Can you tell me a bit more about how this position will contribute to that?” Or: “In a recent interview, the director said the organization is moving in Z direction. What kinds of challenges do you think that will pose to this department, and how will my position help overcome them?”

Never ask questions you could have easily found on your own, or it shows that you didn’t take the time to do your research.

2. Questions that give you insight into the organization’s values and culture

If you’re going to spend most of your weekday hours in this organization, you want to know that it will be a good fit for you. Ask questions that help you learn more about the office culture, as well as the managerial style and expectations you’ll be facing.

  • What kind of employee fits in well with the organization’s management style?
  • Do people go out for lunch and socialize together outside of the office?
  • Is overtime the norm, or is it an occasional thing?
  • What has the organization done lately to show how it values its employees?

You may also want to ask your interviewer what she likes most about working there. That gives her the opportunity to expound more on the office culture, and her response (be it enthusiastic, deflective, or somewhere in between) will tell you a lot about what you’re walking into.

3. Questions that teach you how you can be successful

While you’re learning about how you’ll fit with the organization, you also need to learn whether or not the job is a good fit for you. A job description can only give you so much insight – this is the time to delve deeper.

Ask questions like: “How would you describe the idea candidate?,” “What are the most challenging aspects of this position?” and “What are the top qualities or skills you’re looking for?” Not only do these questions give you a better idea of what the interviewer is seeking, they also give you the opportunity to play up your strengths in those areas.

Figure out what the success metrics are for the position. Ask how your job performance will be measured (and by whom), as well as what results a successful performance will bring.

4. Questions that uncover your interviewer’s concerns

“Do you have any concerns about my being successful in this position?”

This can be a scary question, but it’s one of the most crucial ones you can ask. If your potential employer has any concerns, you want to hear about them while you can still address them. Be sure to listen thoughtfully, thank the interviewer for sharing, then answer without being defensive.

This shows your willingness to take constructive criticism and improve yourself – a highly desirable quality in any employee. Hopefully you’ll be able to head off any problems, but even if you don’t get the job, asking this question will help you see where you can do better in future interviews.

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Sheena Pietzold

I always struggle with this part of the interview. This was really helpful, I’ll definitely put it in my toolbox. Thanks.